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Sheriff reports on WE Fest, 10,000 Lakes Fest

No Becker County law enforcement officers were injured in the performance of their duties at the 10,000 Lakes Festival or WE Fest this summer, according to Sheriff Tim Gordon.

Gordon was at Tuesday's meeting of the Becker County Board of Commissioners to give an overview of the two summer festivals -- which take place every summer south of Detroit Lakes at the Soo Pass Ranch -- from a law enforcement perspective.

Though both festivals are held at the same venue, and take place just a few weeks apart (10KLF is in mid-July, while WE Fest is held the first weekend in August), comparing the two events is like "apples and oranges," Gordon said.

"They're completely different crowds," he added.

While there were 87 arrests during this year's WE Fest, compared to just 18 at 10KLF (which has about half the overall attendance of WE Fest), there were more felony arrests at 10KLF.

Of the 18 arrests made at 10KLF, 16 were for felony-level offenses, Gordon noted. Eight of those arrested for felonies remain incarcerated at this time, he added.

Because these were felony arrests, the individuals had to be jailed in Becker County, which meant the county had to board out 15 inmates to surrounding counties from July 17-Aug. 7, eight inmates for an additional 10 days, Aug. 8-17, and four who remained incarcerated as of Aug. 22. This resulted in approximately $17,000 being paid to out-county jails for boarding expenses.

There were also two deaths at this year's 10KLF, which occurred within 12 hours of each other. Each of these deaths required transportation to Ramsey Medical Center in the Twin Cities and a formal autopsy, which cost the county roughly $3,000 overall.

What the autopsies showed, Gordon added, was that both deaths were "drug-related."

By contrast, Gordon said, there were just five felony-level arrests made during WE Fest (not including felony DWI). Two of those were assaults, one motor vehicle theft, one burglary and one arson incident. In addition, however, the sheriff's office is still investigating two additional sexual assaults that allegedly took place during the festival, he added.

Gordon also noted that the actual number of arrests made during WE Fest this year was "down substantially" from the 120-150 that had been anticipated by his department.

He attributed part of this to "maximized visibility" of law enforcement during the event.

Gordon also noted that one reason for the lack of DWI arrests during 10KLF was the fact that the majority of festival attendees were staying on site for the entire event, rather than driving back and forth from Detroit Lakes as they had done in past years.

As far as added overtime costs for law enforcement officers during the festivals, Gordon said the county would be billing festival organizers for $2,300 in additional overtime at 10KLF, and $870 for WE Fest.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454